Many manufacturers are hell-bent on producing sleek, modern and – at times – futuristic motorbikes that they hope will grab riders’ attention. And although blasting down the street on a Tron-inspired beast will certainly turn heads, it’s not for everyone.
While it’s good to take a predictive glimpse into the future, we think some of the coolest bikes on the market actually hark back to a bygone era: their designs have both a unique and timeless appeal, with the advantage of being able to utilise modern technology.
Let’s take a look at some of the best vintage-style motorbikes available today.
Moto Guzzi V7 Special
As far as standard production motorbikes go, the V7 Special is a beautiful machine and perfect for medium-range touring. The bike is fitted with a 750cc V-twin engine that provides plenty of power.
Despite its classic design, the bike boasts over 70% modern components, which help to deliver increased low-range torque and improved fuel economy. From 2012, the bike has been sold with new cylinder heads and pistons, resulting in a higher 50bhp capability along with an impressive 64mpg.
The new V7 is an amalgamation of its predecessors: the bike’s badges and side panels are inspired by the V750 S3 and the metal fuel tank by the V7 Sport. Moreover, the bike pays homage to machines of the seventies – in particular the Veglia Bortletti – through its cigar-shaped silencers, flat and elongated saddle, and retro mudguards and instrument panels. Its two-tone orange and black paintjob is certainly eye-catching, accentuated by spoked wheels and aluminium rims.
The bike is regularly compared to the infamous Triumph Bonneville. Although nowhere near as powerful, it is 46kg lighter and some argue this makes the bike far more agile.
Bypassing the ever-popular Bonneville, we’ve taken a particular liking to another of Triumph’s iconic motorbikes: the Scrambler.
The Scrambler is loosely based on the Bonneville, fitted with a special version of the bike’s two-cylinder engine. However, the Scrambler’s design takes most of its inspiration from the stripped-down desert bikes of the 1960s, such as the TR6 Trophy (think Steve McQueen in The Great Escape). The Scrambler features high-mounted twin pipes, knobbly tyres, a vintage fuel tank and an exposed tubular steel cradle frame.
The model is fitted with an 865cc 8V engine which provides more torque at surprisingly low revs: in fact, 90% of the bike’s power can be achieved at 2,5000 rpms. Though largely based on the 1960s Triumph-twins, it is modern technology that gives the bike its efficiency and durability, making it a real pleasure to ride.
Royal Enfield Classic 500
You’d be forgiven if you thought this was a genuine vintage motorbike, as the 500 is an extremely convincing classic. What sets this bike apart from the rest is its ultra-nostalgic, post-war era design, featuring vintage tail and head lamps, thigh pads and post-war graphics.
The bike boasts a fuel-injected, 500cc single-cylinder, 4-stroke engine, delivering 27.2 bhp at 5250 rpm and 41.Nm torque at 4000 rpm. Okay, so this definitely isn’t a bike for the speed freaks among us but for riders who appreciate the design and charm that motorbikes of yesteryear used to offer the 500 is perfect.
Once a group dominated by Triumph, the Kawasaki W800 has proven to be a fierce retro roadster rival. The bike is cheaper than the Bonneville but with a more impressive spec; in fact, we even prefer the design of this bike, based on the 1960s Kawasaki W1, which itself was inspired by the British BSA A7.
The W800 has received a new fuel-injection, with an engine that’s classically-styled, lightweight and quite beautiful to look at, owing to its bevel-gear-driven cam on the cylinder head. The vintage-feel is further evoked by an elegant muffler design and peashooter-style silencers with slim chambers and long tailpipes.
Honda CB1100 ABS
Attention to detail meant everything to Honda when they manufactured the CB1100 ABS, as they were eager to do its predecessor – the 1969 CB750 – justice. From the engine castings and wheels to the taillights, everything is beautiful on this bike, though you need to dig a little deeper into your wallet to own one. The bike’s 1140cc engine produces 84 bhp at 7550rpm, with a top speed of 125mph.